3/16/2014 5:52 P.M. ET
Henderson makes time to practice changeup
By Chris Gabel / Special to MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- What was once a secret is no more. Brewers closer Jim Henderson is adding a changeup to his arsenal.
But don't expect it see him use it often -- at least not right away. Henderson has thrown three changeups this spring.
"It's going good; we're 2-for-3 in Spring Training," Henderson said Sunday.
One of those Henderson counts in his favor was a hit, but of the broken-bat variety. The other two times he threw the changeup resulted in a swing and miss for a strikeout, and then a ball that sailed out of the strike zone.
"But even then I got it in the hitter's mind and ended up striking him out looking on a fastball," Henderson said. "It's coming along great, and we'll keep on throwing it."
Henderson is more than happy to throw the changeup during his bullpen sessions and among his warm-up pitches, but further developing it is not high on the priority list with the regular season fast approaching.
"We still need to focus on the strengths, fastball and slider," Henderson said, "and make sure those are ready for the season. If the changeup comes along, then it comes along. There are no guarantees it'll be there for the season."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he had not been able to tell the difference between Henderson's slider and the rare changeups from his perch near the dugout.
Henderson threw a changeup during his days as a starter, and when it was suggested near the end of last season that he work on either a changeup or split-finger fastball to use against left-handed hitters, Henderson went with the change.
Leadoff choice will shape other lineup decisions
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The third and fourth spots in manager Ron Roenicke's lineup will be filled by Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. Beyond that, the Brewers manager is tinkering with different options, starting at the top.
Jean Segura and Rickie Weeks are the leading candidates to lead off, and there will be a domino effect depending on who does.
"If I hit Seggy leadoff, we're thinking of maybe hitting [Jonathan Lucroy] second," Roenicke said. "We'll still experiment with it. If Luc is hitting second, you're pretty good right off the bat. They're tough calls. It may be something we go into the season with, and a month later we're changing it."
Neither Segura nor Weeks is the prototypical leadoff, but Weeks filled the role in past seasons. Weeks also is hitting .364 with a .500 on-base percentage in Spring Training, coming off his worst healthy season in the Majors.
"He's shown in the past he can do it," Roenicke said of Weeks, "and when he's swinging the bat like he is now he can definitely do it."
Roenicke sends Blazek to regroup at Triple-A
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Brewers on Sunday optioned right-handed reliever Michael Blazek to Triple-A Nashville. Blazek had a 10.80 ERA and eight walks to three strikeouts in five innings this spring.
"He's got great stuff, and sometimes you press to try to make teams," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's got to get his confidence back so he can start attacking hitters again."
Blazek, who pitched at three levels a year ago, figures to fill a late-innings role with Nashville.
"We really like his stuff, and he's got a good head on his shoulders," Roenicke said. "He'll be back in the Major Leagues, and he can pitch here for a long time."
The move left the Brewers with 35 players in big league camp.
• Matt Garza will start in a Minor League game Monday. Garza has a 19.06 ERA in three Spring Training starts, but Roenicke said he was not concerned.
Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.